It was some time before I could bring myself to watch it. I glanced at it on the online news, then in someone’s blog, but I didn’t click on the video link until I got the petition from GetUp. I knew I would find it upsetting. So last night I finally watched the Four Corners report ‘A Bloody Business’ about the live export of Australian cattle to Indonesia and the gruesome end they meet there.
I’m not going to kid you, if you have any kind of respect and feeling for animals it’s really tough to watch this footage. But that’s why it’s so important that you do. A lot of the really shitty stuff that goes on this world, whether it’s bad treatment of animals, humans or the environment, happens because people turn a blind eye. It’s painful, and confronting, and they don’t want to know. So watch it now. Please.
These cattle are raised in Australia to very high standards, and if they were to be slaughtered in our country those high standards would extend to the way they are killed. Unfortunately, when we send these cattle to Indonesia to be slaughtered according to halal rules (part of the Muslim religion), the high standards of the Australian cattle industry no longer apply. The majority of abattoirs in Indonesia do not believe that using a stun gun (which renders the animal unconscious), constitutes ‘real’ halal slaughter, therefore they don’t want to use it.
As the Four Corners episode documents, Australian cattle are being subjected to unacceptable treatment in Indonesian abbatoirs. One of the most difficult sequences to watch is one where a steer slips on the filthy cement floor of the abattoir and breaks his leg. Exhausted and in pain, he slumps over a post, unable to get up. But the Indonesian abattoir worker is determined to make him move, so he starts a process of what can only be described as torture. He kicks the animal. He breaks it’s tail. He gouges its eyes and nose. He pours water into its nostrils.
In Australia the acceptable time for completion of slaughter is 30 seconds, and includes the use of a stun gun. In Indonesia abattoir workers were filmed taking up to three minutes to complete a kill, with an average of 10 cuts to the throat of each animal. Blunt knives and lack of skill were cited as factors. Like the steer with the broken leg, it is common practice to break animals’ tails, kick them in the face, and gouge their eye sockets and nostrils.
Sarah Ferguson, the reporter, interviewed many of the cattle bosses who were selling their animals to be treated like this overseas. They didn’t like the Indonesian slaughtering methods, but kept talking about how the situation had ‘improved’. Basically, it comes down to export dollars. The live export trade to Indonesia nets Australia $330m a year, and so for the 19 years that the Australian cattle industry has been exporting live cattle to Indonesia the dollars have spoken louder than the welfare of the animals.
The Greens and two independents are calling for an immediate ban on the export of live cattle to Indonesia. You can help achieve this by clicking here. Because until this barbaric treatment of our Australian cattle is stopped, all of us have blood on our hands.
* You can watch the Four Corners episode ‘A Bloody Business’ on ABC catchup TV for the next couple of weeks here.